The Cubs were owed a player to be named later from the July 4 deal with the Athletics. However, the Cubs will instead receive cash considerations from the A’s. That makes the deal: Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to Oakland for Dan Straily, Minor Leaguers Billy McKinney and Addison Russell and cash considerations.
— Carrie Muskat
CSNChicago.com’s Patrick Mooney compiled a “Year in Cubs Quotes,” which summed up some of the highs and lows of the 2014 season. Here are excerpts:
* “It’s as peaceful as I’ve ever been as a person.” — Rick Renteria, the 53rd manager in franchise history, at the opening of spring training, Feb. 13.
* “You guys are going to crown them the next Babe Ruth.” — first baseman Anthony Rizzo, responding to reporters asking about all the prospects, Feb. 18.
* “Just be myself. Be me. My mind’s clean and ready to play hard.” — shortstop Starlin Castro, promising to return to an All-Star level, Feb. 19.
* “It sucks for the person who parked there. They’re parking too close to the field.” — mega-prospect Javier Baez, after shattering a car window with a batting-practice bomb at Cubs Park, Feb. 21.
* “(Baez) doesn’t care. He’s like: ‘Oh, cool.’ Not cool for whoever’s car it was, I guess.” — eyewitness Logan Watkins, Feb. 21.
* “Losing sucks.” — Theo Epstein, after a reporter asked if winning is “overemphasized” in professional sports, April 22.
* “I was pretty hungry for that one.” — Jeff Samardzija, after allowing one unearned run in nine innings and throwing 126 pitches during a 12-inning loss to the White Sox, May 5.
* “I do believe in second chances. I do believe in redemption. I do believe that Manny has turned his life around for the better in the last couple of years.” — Epstein, stunning the baseball world by signing Manny Ramirez to a minor-league deal as a player/coach for Triple-A Iowa, May 25.
* “I got some goose bumps there. That’s kind of why you play this game, for moments like that.” — Jake Arrieta, after being four outs away from a no-hitter against the Red Sox and getting a standing ovation at Fenway Park, June 30.
* “We shared a beer and a cigarette and sent him on his way. It’s just tough to see your boys leave.” — James Russell’s farewell to Samardzija, July 5.
* “We certainly hope that this is the last year that we’ll be obvious sellers at the trade deadline.” — Epstein, July 5.
* “I got beer. I got chocolate milk. I got hair gel. I got shampoo. I got body wash. And then I got some more beer. It was great. Best shower I’ve ever taken.” — catcher John Baker, after pitching the 16th inning and scoring the game-winning run to beat the Rockies in the longest game in franchise history, July 29-30.
* “I was like: ‘Are you serious?’ And then I realized I was really going to the big leagues. I got really excited. I called my mom, told my brother and everybody started jumping around and crying.” — Javier Baez, before debuting at Coors Field and hitting the game-winning homer against the Rockies, Aug. 5.
* “The best thing to happen to the whole city of Chicago this summer — certainly from a baseball standpoint — was put together by 13-, 12-year-old kids from the South Side. At industry meetings, in lots of front offices around the game, people talk about (it). People ask the question: How can we get young kids playing baseball again, especially in cities, especially in the inner-city? There’s nothing that a bunch of suits in a boardroom can do that would be as powerful as what those 12-year-old kids did to demonstrate how compelling the game of baseball can be, make baseball cool again for young kids.” — Epstein, on the Jackie Robinson West team that won a national title at the Little League World Series, Aug. 27.
* “We’re just waiting for Bryant now.” — Baez, after Jorge Soler hit two homers to beat the Cardinals in St. Louis, Aug. 29.
* “To be the NL Central champs … that’s the message we’re going to send.” — Rizzo’s expectations for next year’s team, Sept. 28.
Darwin Barney is back in Chicago with the Dodgers for a four-game series at Wrigley Field, which opens Thursday. It’s time to update where some former Cubs players are now:
* Jeff Samardzija
Cubs: 2-7, 2.83 ERA in 17 starts
A’s: 4-5, 3.13 ERA in 14 starts
Samardzija has 10 quality starts in his 14 outings with the A’s, and he has not given up a run over 15 innings in his last two starts, but did not get a decision in either. On Wednesday, he struck out 10 and held the Rangers to four hits over eight scoreless innings, but the A’s lost, 6-1. If the season ended today, Samardzija and the A’s are in the playoffs.
* Jason Hammel
Cubs: 8-5, 2.98 ERA in 17 starts
A’s: 2-6, 4.76 ERA in 11 starts
Hammel hasn’t had the same success as Samardzija, and struggled in July (1-4, 7.83 ERA). His only win in July came with the Cubs on the day he was traded — a 7-2 victory over the Nationals when he gave up two runs over six innings. Hammel recently left the team to be with his wife for the birth of their second child. In case you forgot, Samardzija and Hammel were dealt to the A’s for Addison Russell, Billy McKinney, Dan Straily and a player to be named later.
* Darwin Barney
Cubs: .230/.265/.328, 2 HR, 16 RBIs in 72 games
Dodgers: .273/.448/.455, 1 HR, 5 RBIs in 15 games
Barney hit a two-run homer on Wednesday for the Dodgers. Traded on July 28 for right-handed pitcher Jonathan Martinez, Barney was not promoted to the Dodgers until Aug. 10.
* Nate Schierholtz
Cubs: .192/.240/.300, 6 HRs, 33 RBIs in 99 games
Nationals: .179/.207/.286, 1 HR, 2 RBIs in 15 games
Schierholtz was released on Aug. 13, and signed with the Nats five days later. His team is headed to the playoffs.
* James Russell
Cubs: 0-2, 3.51 ERA, 44 games
Braves: 0-0, 3.38 ERA in 18 games
Left-handed hitters have apparently figured Russell out, batting .291 against the southpaw this year. He’s held right-handers to a .160 batting average. In 2013, those numbers were reversed as Russell held lefties to a .183 average, and right-handers hit .321 off him.
* Emilio Bonifacio
Cubs: .279/.318/.373, 2 HRs, 18 RBIs in 69 games
Braves: .236/.277/.281, 0 HR, 2 RBIs in 32 games
Bonifacio was traded July 31 to the Braves along with James Russell for Victor Caratini, who batted .264 in 14 games with Class A Kane County after hitting .279 in 87 games at Class A Rome. For the year, Caratini hit .277 in 101 games with five homers, 22 doubles and 55 RBIs.
* Jose Veras
Cubs: 0-1, 8.10 ERA, 0-for-2 in save opportunities, 12 games
Astros: 4-0, 2.25 ERA, 1-for-4 in save opportunities in 30 games
Veras, expected to be the Cubs closer, was sidelined with a strained left oblique until May 14, then released on June 10. He signed a Minor League contract with the Astros five days later, and has thrived.
Jeff Samardzija accepted the news about being named to the NL All-Star team but not being able to pitch because he was traded Friday to the Athletics in the American League.
“Random happening,” Samardzija told reporters in Oakland after picking up a win in his first start Sunday. “I don’t think it’s ever happened before, and I don’t think anyone knew I was going to be an All-Star before the trade. It just happened to be that way. I won’t get to pitch, which is a bummer, but that’s all right. I’ll just go through the ceremony and then jump over to the AL dugout with an NL jersey on and have fun with the six other guys we have over there.
“You care about putting a whole season together, but this means you got off to a good start, your first few months went well. Most importantly, it’s respect from your fellow players. That feels good. It means they’re noticing what you’re doing and they respect it, and that means a lot.”
Samardzija was selected to the NL team by the players’ votes.
— Carrie Muskat
Starlin Castro and Jeff Samardzija were both named to the National League All-Star team. Both were elected by player votes. This is Castro’s third All-Star selection.
“After that bad year last year, that’s what we’re looking for — make it a good year this year,” Castro said in Washington after the Cubs’ game. “Make it to the All-Star Game. And come back on that level.
“[It feels] awesome,” Castro said. “Everybody in my family is happy, too. I called them right away and they celebrated at home.”
Samardzija, who picked up a win in his first start for Oakland on Sunday, will be able to attend the game as a member of the NL squad, but he will not play in the game because of the trade. The right-hander, who was 2-7 with a 2.83 ERA in 17 starts with the Cubs, will be replaced on the roster in the same way a pitcher who throws the Sunday before the All-Star Game is replaced.
“I think that the fact that he was recognized for his performance in and of itself speaks to that,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said of Samardzija. “Good for him.”
“He’s done a great job,” Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo said of Castro. “He’s not trying to hit home runs or anything. It’s not about that, it’s about getting on base and letting other guys do the job.”
Rizzo could also get to the All-Star Game but needs fans’ help. He’s one of five candidates in the Final Vote. Go to MLB.com for more info.
Castro, 24, is the third shortstop in franchise history to be selected to at least three All-Star teams, joining Ernie Banks (nine times as a shortstop) and Don Kessinger (six times). Castro is one of only six shortstops to be named an All-Star in franchise history, joining Banks, Kessinger, Billy Jurges (once), Woody English (once) and Shawon Dunston (twice).
In 2011, Castro became the youngest player in franchise history to be named to an All-Star team at the age of 22. Castro, Dunston and Kessinger are the only three Cubs shortstops to earn All-Star honors in the last 50 years.
— Carrie Muskat
About a month ago, A’s GM Billy Beane talked to Theo Epstein about Jeff Samardzija. Beane wanted to make sure if Epstein was going to trade the right-hander that he call the A’s.
Epstein has been in rebuild mode since joining the Cubs in October 2011, and dealt two starting pitchers in 2012 and again last year. The focus has been on adding pitching and impact talent. But Epstein and Beane had a tough time finding a combination of players that fit each other’s check lists. Beane wanted a way to expand the deal and get more back, and the Cubs were focused on one player who they felt was better than any pitcher offered in exchange.
On Friday, the Cubs acquired a player who now makes the core four the fab five.
“There was no pitcher available who was even close to the caliber of player that Addison Russell is,” Epstein said of the shortstop, ranked No. 11 on MLB.com’s list of top 100 prospects, who is now a Cub.
Once again, Epstein dealt two starting pitchers, packaging Samardzija with Jason Hammel, and sending both to the A’s for three Minor Leaguers — Russell, right-handed pitcher Dan Straily, and outfielder Billy McKinney. The Cubs will also receive a player to be named later.
“We certainly hope this is the last year we’ll be obvious sellers at the Trade Deadline,” Epstein said Saturday. “Nothing would make us happier than being in the position Oakland is in, which is to aggressively add to the big league team and enhance the team’s chances of making the postseason and winning the World Series.”
If the Cubs were to make a trade this year, Epstein said they needed to get a player who “significantly impacts the organization and helps make our future a heck of a lot better.” Russell, who was the A’s No. 1 pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, is that type of player, Epstein said. The Cubs now have eight of the top 100 prospects on MLB.com’s list, and four of the top 15 in Javier Baez (No. 6), Kris Bryant (No. 8), Russell (No. 11) and Albert Almora (No. 15).
The Cubs wanted Samardzija to be part of that future, too, and had discussed a contract extension. However, the right-hander, who will be a free agent after the 2015 season, was looking for market value, which the Cubs couldn’t offer.
“It’s fair to say we were close just because there was mutual interest,” Epstein said. “We’ve always admired Jeff and the way he goes about his business, his talent, his work ethic, what he means in that clubhouse, his competitiveness. He’s somebody we thought about possibly starting playoff games at Wrigley Field.
“We did have a desire to keep him,” Epstein said. “I think Jeff loved the Cubs and the fans and loved the city and wanted to be here. In the end, that mutual interest wasn’t enough. I don’t blame that on anybody. I think the timing wasn’t necessarily aligned.”
— Carrie Muskat
Jeff Samardzija gets the start in the second game of Saturday’s day-night doubleheader. Here’s the lineup:
Scouts have been at each of Jeff Samardzija’s starts, and Monday night was no exception. According to FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi, the Blue Jays’ contingent at Wrigley Field included scouting director Perry Minasian. Morosi reports there are “strong indications” the Cubs would deal Samardzija for a package including right-hander Aaron Sanchez, lefty Daniel Norris and center fielder Dalton Pompey. However, the Blue Jays GM says he won’t include that trio. Morosi also reports the Blue Jays may consider David Price or Cole Hamels. Of the three Blue Jays prospects, Norris has a 1.62 ERA in 72 innings between high Class A and Double-A.
Samardzija notched his 12th quality start in 16 outings Monday night, but it wasn’t good enough. The Cubs lost, 6-1. Samardzija gave up one run over six innings. He has received one or fewer runs in eight of his 16 starts, and has a 2.82 ERA in those games. Samardzija’s success is one of the reasons several teams have scouts trailing him. Samardzija has been able to shrug off the trade rumors.
“He’s being a professional,” Anthony Rizzo said. “I’m sure it’s not easy reading where he’s going, when he’s going, who he’s going to, who we’re getting if he does get traded. It’s just a distraction and not easy, and he’s dealing well with all of it.”
The Cubs most likely will have October off. What would it be like to pitch in a pennant race?
“I love to pitch in big games,” Samardzija said. “I love to pitch in games when I can’t sleep the night before — those days when you’re up until three, four in the morning, and you have a day game the next day, you know it’s a big game. Those are fun. I’ve learned over the last couple years that every start is important.”
When was the last time Samardzija had a sleepless night prior to a big game?
“That’s a good question,” he said, and paused. “It’s happened a few times this year.”
— Carrie Muskat
Jeff Samardzija gets the start Monday night as the Cubs open a three-game series against the Reds at Wrigley Field. Welington Castillo makes his first start behind the plate since being activated from the disabled list. Here’s the lineup:
* Samardzija is the only pitcher in baseball to make at least 15 starts this year and have only two wins despite an ERA under 3.00. The only other pitchers in baseball with just two wins despite a sub-3.00 ERA in at least 12 starts are the Padres’ Andrew Cashner and the Phillies’ Cole Hamels, both of whom have two wins in 12 starts. Both Cashner and Hamels have seen time on the DL this year.
The previous pitcher with just two wins and a sub-3.00 ERA in his first 15 starts to a season was James Shields, who was 2-6 with a 2.72 ERA in his first 15 starts last year with the Royals.
* Samardzija this season ranks ninth in the NL with a 2.60 ERA. He has allowed three or fewer walks in each of his last nine starts since May 5, having walked 16 and struck out 59 in that span.